In conversation with Lt. Gen (r) Faiz Ali Chishti

ISLAMABAD - The Fall of Dakha on December 16, 1971was not just an outcome of war between India and Pakistan but it had a long history of neglect and apathy of successive governments of Pakistan, since its inception in 1947, toward the inhabitants of the then East Pakistan.

Lt-Gen.(r) Faiz Ali Chishti, who had an eventful career and was an eye-witness of Pakistan coming into being, candidly shared these views while talking to The Nation at his residence in the posh locality of Rawalpindi Cantonment.

The otherwise soft and pleasant looking general who received me at the main entrance of his palatial residence with broad smile on his face turned grim and a bit more serious when asked about the painful event of the country’s history.

“Excluding the brief stint of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in power the rest of the successive governments in the country had contributed toward the segregation of the country to which Armed Forces of the country is one of the components.”

The Hindus of Sub-continent never accepted the creation of Pakistan and that was the reason they were out to conspire against Pakistan ever since its appearance on the world map. But in the face of all this the governments in Pakistan had not taken appropriate measures to keep the sovereignty of the country intact, Gen Chishti said taking a long breath.

Faiz Ali Chishti, who had also served as Deputy Martial Law Administrator with General Ziaul Haq, after the 1977 coup wherein he had played a key role being the Corps Commander 10 Corps, was Brigade Commander Artillery, 12 Division, Murree, when East Pakistan was sliced away from West Pakistan.

Recalling the Hindus claim that independent Pakistan could not survive beyond 25 years and from day first India was engaged in conspiracies against Pakistan but the people at helms of affairs in Pakistan turned a blind eye to all what was happening around them and had not taken any preventive measures to keep the people of East Pakistan intact and aligned with West Pakistan.

He recalled that even after creation of Pakistan the main education system in East Pakistan was controlled by Hindus while the administration of West Pakistan deputed there did not know their language. On top of it they were being politically alienated and their due right to rule the country despite having majority was continuously denied. Such things mainly contributed toward disenchantment of Bengalis toward their Muslim brethren of West Pakistan.

To a question, he said that as Armed Forces and intelligence agencies used to be parts of the governments so one could not absolve them in failure of their duties but the main responsibility rest with the sitting government which is authorised to make policies and execute them.

Besides ignoring the genuine demands and needs of people of East Pakistan there was criminal negligence on the part of the government in failing to make arrangements for the adequate defence of the area, he said adding that the needs of the Armed Forces, Navy and Air Force had never been fulfilled to make its defence impeccable.

On tactical level the area is bordering with India from three sides while it is facing the sea on the fourth side. Inside the East Pakistan the area was divided into four separate regions by four major rivers and it was the requirement of the areas defence to have at least one airstrip each in all these four regions which was not the case. While the position of ground troops and Navy warships were insufficient to fully defend the area.“ Even in such worst conditions the Armed Forces of the country had fought valiantly in defence of the country and laid down their lives,” he said while rejecting the notion of any role of Army in Fall of Dakha.

He said actually the regular Armed Forces figure in East Pakistan was not above 40 thousand while the rest were the semi-Army people. Even a few thousands from the regular Armed Forces personnel some few thousands were from supplies, engineers and other supporting departments of fighting troops but even then the Army fought valiantly in defence of the motherland.

To a question, Mr Chishti said that he was commissioned officer in united Indian Army as he had joined Army in 1946 a year before the creation of Pakistan and then after the division of sub-continent he travelled to Pakistan and become part of Pakistan Army.

To another question, he said, “Actually we have failed to accomplish the mission of creating a separate homeland for the Muslims of Sub-continent by transforming it into a true Islamic republic on the model of State of Madina established by Muhammad (PBUH) where every citizen have equal rights irrespective of his cast and creed. This he thinks is the cornerstone of Ideology of Pakistan.”

To a question, he said that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto should have accepted the mandate of Sh Mujeebur Rehman instead of raising the slogan of ‘Udhar Tum Idhar Hum’ to keep the ball rolling and in this way could have avoided the parting of ways by the majority of the people from minority to create a separate homeland for them.



abrar ali saeed